‘Pop up shops?’ Here comes ‘pop up theatre’

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

The stage is set for a novel use for one of Sheffield city centre’s empty shops.

The old Woolworths building on The Moor is due to be used as a ‘pop up theatre’ while a permanent occupier is found for the building.

It’s a twist on the concept of ‘pop up shops’, with the premises providing temporary accommodation for performances as well as rehearsals and workshops, alongside a cafe and bar.

Already a charity called Theatre Delicatessen has rolled out the concept successfully at four locations in London. Now it is looking to broaden its canvas, and has chosen Sheffield after discussions with the company working on the redevelopment of The Moor.

It is aiming to showcase several productions over the year, working with local artists and theatre makers and aiming to involve audiences in the shows.

First, though, it will stage an outdoor theatre production, Pedal Pusher, at Furnace Park, Shalesmoor, as part a festival exploring alternative perspectives of the Tour de France.

Permission is being sought from the council to convert two floors of the former shop into theatre space from Monday to Saturday, with audiences of up to 100.

“The concept behind Theatre Delicatessen’s work is that the company - as far as possible - tries to avoid creating a traditional theatre environment, but allows artists to be inspired and make use of the spaces we find them,” the council is being told. “By staging immersive theatre productions in this form, and by establishing a resource for emerging artists, the organisation hopes to make the best ‘meanwhile’ use of buildings that are lying empty prior to redevelopment.”

Ranald Philips, director of Ashcroft, asset managers for Aberdeen Asset Management, which is steering the redevelopment of The Moor, said Theatre Delicatessen will provide “another dimension” to activity on the precinct.

“Their programme will showcase regional creative talent through performance art and provide another area for shoppers to explore and events to participate in. “They are a well respected organisation with numerous accolades - we are looking forward to seeing the results of the collaborations and connections they are already making with Sheffield based artists.”

An outdoor performance of Pedal Pusher will be staged at Furnace Park, near the Shalesmoor roundabout, from July 1 to 6 as part of the Changing Gears Festival, in the run-up to the Tour de France. It tells the dramatic story of Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich’s battle to become champion of the Tour.